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Interview with author, Jenny Colgan (part 2)

TS.  As my readers know, I am (1) a voracious reader and (2) always looking for new (to me) authors. My first exposure to Jenny was
The Cafe by the Sea. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t certain that I would continue to buy her books. So quirky; I hadn’t before  heard this particular ‘voice’ in an author.  15 books (and counting) later, I admit to being a girl-fan.  I love her stories! The characters are real people trying to stumble through life, as we all are, as best we can. So imagine my joy when this prolific and busy author agreed to be interviewed. And she was so generous with her answers! 

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

JC. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. Lots of people think they’d like to be writers, but then just can’t get it done, and you know what, that’s fine, that’s okay, go do something else, don’t make yourself miserable. I wanted to be a stand up comedian, but I hated every single second of being onstage, and I realized I just wanted to call myself a stand up, I didn’t actually want to do the work. That’s fine. There’s plenty of books out there already, there’s absolutely no need to do it if you don’t want to, so find something else fun to do.

If you really want to, you’ll set your wordcount in your head, even if it’s only 500 words a day, and you’ll do it. Somehow. They never have to be your best words, they don’t even have to be any good. All that kind of stuff you fix in the edit. Your first draft you just have to find the momentum to get 1000 words down every day for 80 days, then look at what you have at the end.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

Husband, Andrew

JC. All over the place. Sometimes bits and pieces of people I’ve met, sometimes I just start them off and see. I’m writing a character now who is very beautiful. I wanted them to be difficult and impossible, but actually that didn’t work at all.

What turned out to be much more interesting are normal people’s reactions to someone who is extremely beautiful. It isn’t her fault at all; other people just become really weird around her when she’s in the room, and her experience of life is different from most people’s. So, they develop as you go. I worked with a scientist last year- I don’t usually meet a lot of scientists in my line of work- and he never said anything unless he knew it was absolutely a fact, the case. You could see the gears working in his brain every time he was asked for an opinion on anything. And I thought, that’s interesting, and wrote a character (who isn’t based on my colleague at all) who has that kind of rigorous thought process.

Q. What tools do you begin with? (from last week)

Sketch of Mure

JC. Sometimes I like to sketch my characters to get a view for what they look like and what they’re doing. If I’m a bit stuck, I’ll start drawing…..

Q. What first inspired you to write?

JC. Oh I was just a massive bookworm. Writing books is the closest you get to reading books your entire life. I write the kind of books I absolutely love reading and if I can’t find a book I want- eg a series for adults set amongst teachers in a boarding school- I just go write it myself.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

JC. The situation, generally. ‘What if you were a refugee and posted to a remote Scottish island?’ ‘What if you lost everything and could only get a really lowly job in a bakery?’ ‘What if you met an alien?’. Things I think might be interesting.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Another favorite

JC. Yeah, sometimes. Generally near the end of something. Not always, and it doesn’t have a huge effect on the work, really, I mean I don’t think the reader could tell the points where I’ve got very obsessed with it, but sometimes I get completely wrapped up in them and can’t think about anything else. My husband can always tell. 🙂

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

Did you miss Part 1 of this in-depth interview?

Don’t Miss part 3 of this spectacular Interview with Jenny. Coming May 21st. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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The Jenny Colgan Month ~~ Author Extraordinaire!

TS. Jenny Colgan, a Scottish lass, has a unique voice as a writer….quirky, fresh and bright. She left university in the 90s and started working for the NHS in administration, whilst always loving comedy and working on ‘funny things’- cartooning, a bit of stand up (horrible and very nerve-wracking); sketch writings and so on. She went on to write my first novel, Amanda’s Wedding, as a comedy novel and she was surprised when it got published. She’s gone on to write around 35 novels…she says she’s lost count. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

JC. I work in coffee shops, or I did before the pandemic. I like the white noise, the sense of life happening all around you; I like that you can’t stay there too long or it’s rude, and I like that they bring you a sandwich. In fact I’m just about to head off to my nearest one, which has a stunning view of Edinburgh Castle and lets me take my dog in.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

JC. No I think that kind of thing can be very dangerous for writers, and certainly is for wannabe writers. You end up living in an isolation box, driven mad by the noise of your own fridge. Instead, be a soldier about it and learn how to work anywhere, the way they learn to go to sleep on command.  Aeroplanes are good places to work, trains are terrific.

Once when the children were little I took them to see Chicken Run in an otherwise empty cinema. I snuck up to the back row and worked on a manuscript there. It had rather more chickens in it than my agent was expecting, but otherwise it worked absolutely fine. If I turn up ten minutes to pick up the kids from school, I can get 500 words in if I have to. Momentum is very important to novelists, so clear anything that can hold you up, like thinking you need a special notebook or whatever.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

All written by Jenny

JC. I find writing quite easy, but I find playing the piano very difficult. I probably spend about as much time playing piano and worrying about it as I do thinking about my books.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

JC. Sometimes I like to sketch my characters to get a view for what they look like and what they’re doing. If I’m a bit stuck, I’ll start drawing. I also keep a file of pictures from actors, people in the news who look a bit like my characters in my head. Otherwise it’s straight to the keyboard, wordcount at the ready. I’ll write 2,500 in a sitting or 3000 divided into two sittings depending on where I am with deadlines.

Perfect son, perfect dog

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

JC. Yeah, about 11.30am I like to start. So I have time in the morning to drink coffee, read the internet, get the kids to school, walk the dogs and take some exercise, shower, practice my scales. I’ll work till about 2 ish depending on how the word count is going.

 

 

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

Join us, May 14th,  for Part 2 of this wonderful Interview

Watch for my reviews!
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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Research Can Unearth Some Surprises!

Nazi codes in the hem of a dress?

After reading Susan Elia MacNeal’s Mr. Churchill’s Secretary I was inspired to write a short play about Winston Churchill and hisChurchills.Cat.BookCoverImage cat, Nelson.   Ms. MacNeal referred, in passing, to Mr. Churchill’s pets being allowed free rein to wander the war rooms at #10 Downing Street during Churchill’s time in office.  I could clearly see  the rotund, shambling figure of the Prime Minister with two pugs yapping at his heels while Admiral Nelson, the cat, sat high atop a side table. Silently observing his human and the general hysteria of the dogs.

Churchill was a master not only in crafting the English sentence but also in the coinage of words.  His tongue-in-cheek comment:  “A fanatic is one who won’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” is a favorite of mine.  In a World War I speech, (1914) Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty coined the phase ‘business as usual’.  Saying the maxim of the British people is “business as usual.”  Churchill gave the world the phrase: “Iron Curtain” in his speech in Missouri in 1946 when he said, “…..an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

Having grown up during the post-war years, I knew something of Mr. Churchill.  A historic figure that was a great statesman, orator and leader.  But I really knew nothing of the man.  And once again, (as I have mentioned before) I began a project and then started my research.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, (which I highly recommend) is fiction but based in fact.  Ms. MacNeal was fortunate enough to have several interviews with Churchill’s private secretary before her death.  The book is about a ‘typist’ who was relegated to a menial job because of her gender.  She was actually educated in mathematics and cryptology and could easily have fitted in with MI-Five (British CIA) but for her being a woman.  The novel’s heroine, Maggie, saves the Prime Minister from certain death by breaking a Nazi code.  And this brings me to the fashion advert that actually ran in the London Times and was full of Nazi messages.  All the stitching (around sleeves and hem) was Morse code for attacks at #10 Downing and St. Paul’s cathedral. 

“German spies hid secret messages in drawings of models wearing the latest fashions in an attempt to outwit Allied censors during World War Two, according to British security service files. Nazi agents relayed sensitive military information using the dots and dashes of Morse code incorporated in the drawings. They posted the letters to their handlers, hoping that counter-espionage experts would be fooled by the seemingly innocent pictures. But British secret service officials were aware of the ruse and issued censors with a code-breaking guide to intercept them.”  (actual advert from the London Times).

If not for my love of reading, my passion for writing, and the need for research, I would never have delved into Churchill’s life and his time in office. (my interests don’t generally take that path).  It’s an unexpected delight to learn more about this amazing statesman.  He was quirky, irritable, brilliant, and very funny.

And all because I had begun writing a short play about Mr. Churchill and his cat!  I love when that happens!!

(Originally published 2013)
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan
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Book Review~~Picnic in Someday Valley

reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing                                        
4 out of 5 quills   

Author, Jodi Thomas, never lets her readers down. This sequel to the Honey Creek series is a satisfying read, re-visiting Someday Valley and the strong characters that Jodi Thomas has drawn. Pecos and Brand being my favorites in this new one.  

The readers get to return to Honey Creek and Someday Valley, two small towns in Texas. While set in current times, there’s still a flavor of the old west and small town closeness and politics that you cannot escape from to this day.  The story is rich in twists and turns with vibrant, quirky characters.

I highly recommend it to my readers. 

Did you miss the wonderful interview we did with this author? 

Coming Soon! (Oct. 2021, Book 3 Honey Creek series)

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!     December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg
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Book Review ~~ Band of Sisters

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing                                5 out of 5 quills                         BOOK REVIEW

This is an exceptional, sweeping saga about a group of women, all alumni of Smith College, who volunteered to go to Europe to assist the ravaged French villages during World War I.  What is extraordinary is, if an event happened in this book, it happened in real life. Based on old documents and letters, the new Smith College Relief Unit, composed of women from all walks of life, signed up for six months to try and assist villagers who were devastated by the war raging across Europe. They were later to be affectionately known as ‘the Smithies’. 

Their careers in social work, medicine, teaching couldn’t prepare them for the conditions they found when they disembarked from a train from Paris onto the muddy track leading to the village, Gricourt. The village existed hand in glove with an always changing ‘front line’ of battle between the Allied Forces and the German juggernaut.

Each woman’s life is showcased with beautiful writing from this author, Lauren Willig.  Sometimes novels that are based heavily on actual historical events slip into being dry and dusty reading.  It never happened in this novel, I am happy to report.
A real page turner to the end. A beautiful book of prose and an exciting, action-filled, story.  

Released March 21st
Did you miss my INTERVIEW with Lauren Willig?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica  March: Lee Matthew Goldberg
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

Interview with author, Madeline Hunter

Madeline Hunter is a bestselling author of more than thirty historical romances. She is a two-time RITA winner. Her books have been on the NY Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller list.  Over six million of her books are in print, and have been translated into fourteen languages. A Ph.D. in Art History, she was, for many years, a professor at an eastern university. She lives in western Pennsylvania, near her two sons.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

MH. About ten years ago some renovations in my home allowed me to create an office just for my writing. It is right off the family room and has a lot of light. My desk is a long, deep ledge along one wall. I am a stacker, so that desk is usually a total mess. I know where everything is, though! And when I organize, I lose stuff so I don’t do that too often (this is my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)
I suppose if I had a dream work space, it would be a small separate building, or perhaps an elegant office that resembles an English country library from the 19th century, full of books and wood and a desk that isn’t so big that it gets covered in my stacks. Can I have regular office staff to keep it all looking gorgeous too?

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

MH. Coffee, then more coffee. Silence. Preferably no one else in the house and certainly not moving around and DEFINITELY not popping in to chat.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

MH. I am a traveler. I have been to five continents, and more cities than I can count. Travel really invigorates me and fills the well that I draw on for my writing.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

Available April 27th

MH. I start with either legal pad/pen or computer. In either case, I am just throwing down ideas to flesh out the germ of a notion I have for a book. It is very messy and barely understandable to anyone else except me. I keep doing this, honing the story idea, making sure the characters work for me, and ensuring there is enough story to carry a novel. Eventually I start writing a synopsis and try to synthesize all of that into the actual plot story line. The synopsis goes through more drafts until it is in final form. The synopsis is not an outline. It is the who, what, why of the book, but not necessarily the how.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

MH. Yes, but it has shifted around. I started out a night writer, then became a morning writer, and am currently an early afternoon writer. I have no idea why the times have changed. Ideally I’d be a morning writer because when it gets pushed off, it may not happen at all.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

MH. Sit in the chair and just start with one sentence. The rest will follow. Now, that sounds so sensible, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it is the actual sitting and doing it that is the problem. If you have a publisher and write to contract, that contract really helps because no work, no pay. However, if you are not beholden to anyone but yourself, problems can develop. I think every writer who starts a project should create deadlines and commit to them. Make them realistic, but non-negotiable once they are set. When I was starting, before I was published, I forced myself to finish a book every eight months. I had a goal and found the time to get it done. It is harder to procrastinate when you see your goal slipping away.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

MH. Wow, this is a big subject. I have had characters come to me in many ways. I have had them walk into other books and start being so dynamic and interesting that I knew I had to do a book just for them. I have had visions of characters and ended up figuring out a story so I could learn more about them. And I learn about them as I write them. I am a big believer that character development is just that—they develop as the story unfolds. The reader learns about them pretty much the same way I did. It is important to me that my characters be distinctive. I don’t want all of my heroes to be cut of the same cloth, for example. It is tempting, when you have a really cool character, to use clones of him again and again. Eventually the readers recognize that is happening, however.

Join us for the conclusion to this Interview ~ January 23rd
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig,
January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
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  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

 

New Fiction for Women: Mini Book Reviews

         I am always on the prowl for new authors (to me) to read, review and interview. If I’m lucky I find them to my taste for my pleasure reading too. An added bonus! These mini-reviews are books I wanted to share with my readers and unsolicited by the authors.

Christmas at the Beach Hotel by Jenny Colgan          reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing 4 out of 5 quills

A wacky little story set in a wacky little village on a remote rock (really) jutting out of the north Atlantic sea. The sentence structure, the run-on sentences and the odd flavor and cadence of the language made this writer/reader wonder if English was the author’s first language.  Rather than distract from the story, it turned out (at least for me) to add charm and credence to the unlikely characters living, willingly, on the harsh and unwelcoming island that is Mure.
It took a couple chapters in to fully believe in said characters and stop wondering why anyone in their right minds would live there. I recommend this book and look forward to the next one I shall be opening soon.
 

Seabreeze Inn by Jan Moran   reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing reviews, authors, writing   
                                                                   4 out of 5 quills

I’ve been reading Jan Moran for awhile now. Very enjoyable contemporary stories set along the coast of southern California.

Seabreeze Inn is a series set in what was an old private home, now, out of necessity, turned into a charming Inn by a reluctant widow. Her husband, recently deceased, had neglected to tell her about his acquisition. She is quite surprised to find herself the sudden owner of an old house, with back taxes past due, broke on top of everything else. Its beautiful location on the beach and steps from the sand inspires her to convert the house into an inn. Throughout the series the old house gives up its secrets and becomes another vibrant character in the story line. 

The characters are well drawn and very plausible. The reader will be  happy to know that there are more challenges, conflict, surprises and love interests in the following books. 

    reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing        5 out of 5 quills 
                                    Married To The Rogue  by Mary Lancaster

This Regency romance is a perfect mix of good writing.  A fun, interesting story, several love stories woven in, and a hint of sex. Written in the style of Barbara Cartland, Georgette Heyer and Mary Balogh, the raciest romance scenes go no further than the kissing of fingers, the inside of a lady’s wrist, one or two passionate kisses….and the rest is left to the imagination of the reader.  This is my favorite approach to sex scenes in this genre. When an author is blatant, for no apparent reason, I find it is frequently to compensate for weak writing. A Literary Commentary

Married To The Rogue is strongly written. Deborah is a self assured young debutante who finds herself painted into a corner of scandal where there appears to be no escape.  Christopher is a young peer who has political ideas far ahead of his time and has an urgent need for a wife. 
Having just discovered Mary Lancaster, I look forward to reading more of her books. (Hurry up, Amazon!) 
I highly recommend this book to my readers.
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my 

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

Interview with Lauren Willig, author of Band of Sisters (conclusion)

Excerpt from my upcoming review of Band of Sisters: “This is an exceptional, sweeping saga about a group of women, all alumni of Smith College, who volunteered to go to Europe to assist the ravaged French villagers during World War I.  What is extraordinary is if an event happened in this book, it happened in real life….” 

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

LW. My first serious stab at publication was in third grade, with a mystery novel called “The Night the Clock Struck Death”, featuring twin girl detectives (because if one girl detective was good, two had to be even better, right?). That manuscript came back to me with a rejection slip, as did the one after that (a Victoria Holt knock-off called “The Chateau Secret”, written in sixth grade), but religiously read my Writer’s Digest magazines, attended writer summer camp at UVA as a high schooler, and kept on at it. I signed my first publishing contract in 2003— seventeen years after that first rejection letter.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

LW. No. Perhaps that’s wishful thinking, but there’s power in an actual object, in the feel of the paper in your hands. Children learn to read on paper books. It’s still the default mode—even if I do spend most of my time reading on Kindle these days as I sit in the dark next to my small children’s beds, waiting for them to fall asleep.

Q. What makes a writer great?

LW. Every reader will have a different answer to that. For me, it’s something to do with voice and characterization, with that magical mix of word craft and an intuitive understanding of human nature, which makes the words themselves fall away as the real, living, breathing, believable people appear before you, telling you their stories, sweeping you into their lives.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

LW. It involves a great deal of coffee. A very great deal of coffee.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

LW. I spent most of my childhood living in other centuries. I went jaunting off on the crusades with Eleanor of Aquitaine as a Lower Schooler through E.L. Konigsburg’s A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, and took off through late Victorian London every Sunday night with Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes on Mystery. I looked for Robin Hood and his Merry Men around every tree in Central Park and spent a great deal of time as a Victorian governess in gothic mansions via the oeuvre of Victoria Holt. So my real life, my life as a child in Manhattan—and an adult in Manhattan!—with some digressions to institutions of learning in between has very little to do with my writing. Although I did mine my experiences as a grad student in London for the Pink Carnation books and as a junior associate at a New York law firm for my first stand alone novel, The Ashford Affair.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

LW. With an early rising preschooler, a night owl first grader, two books due this year, and a pandemic, down time feels like a quaint and charming concept I may once have read about in a book. When I can, I try to grab a few minutes with a jigsaw puzzle (I find jigsaw puzzles terribly soothing); I do a great deal of baking with the preschooler (which may explain why most of my baked goods come out shaped like dinosaurs); and I relish my reading-in-the-dark time as I sit by the first grader’s bedside, waiting and waiting for her to fall asleep.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

LW. All the time! I’ve always been a cross-genre reader—no one could figure out what genre the first Pink Carnation book was meant to be when it came out back in 2005!—and I love writing as broadly as I read. I’ve had a half-finished contemporary rom com sitting on my computer for years, waiting for the time to finish it, and I’ve always wanted to write a mystery or mystery series, either historical or contemporary. Maybe one of these days….

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

LW. I haven’t regretted any of the books I’ve written, only the books I haven’t written. So when it comes to the question, should I write it? The answer is always: write it!

Thanks so much for having me here, Trisha! To learn more about me or any of my books, just pop over to my website, www.laurenwillig.com, or to my Facebook author page, https://www.facebook.com/LaurenWillig/. Or you can find me on Instagram (@laurenwillig) and see all those dino shaped cakes my preschooler makes me bake!

Did you miss the beginning of this wonderful Interview?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
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  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!

Interview with author, Ella Quinn (part 2)

TS.  Expat and author now living in Germany, Ella Quinn is one of my favorite authors. Good solid stories, with plenty of story plot twists, and wonderful protagonists.  I love escaping with a Quinn historic (Regency) romance. After reading (in our interview) she cruised the Caribbean and North America, she then completed a transatlantic crossing from St. Martin to Southern Europe (Lagos, Portugal) aboard her beloved, Silver Penny (Yikes!)..well…my admiration knows no bounds. I’m an old ex-sailor and the thought of crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat terrifies the hair right off my head!  Taking a knockdown, while under spinnaker was enough terror to last me forever.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

The cockpit of Ella’s catamaran, the Silver Penny (where she writes)

EQ. My characters discover me! It started with my first book. I’ve followed my characters ever since. They literally come up and introduce themselves to me.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

EQ. I should say that I never in my life expected to write fiction. But I was 58, tired of practicing law, and looking for something else to do. Suddenly, I had a video playing in my head about an angry Regency lady, and I had to write it down. One month later I had a finished book, The Seduction of Lady Phoebe, and had to figure out what to do with it.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

EQ. Definitely the characters.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Ella with her hound, Lillibet

EQ. I do. There are times that I can write for hours and never get up.

Q. Are you working on something now? If so tell us about it.

EQ. I’m starting a new Trevor novella for a multi-author box-set that will release next summer. My Trevor series is about a horrible old duke who wants to control the lives of his children. This mainly consists of arranging matches that are good for the dukedom, but not for them. So, all the books are about his kids finding their love and their own spouses with help from friends and other family members.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

EQ.  When I first started to write. I’m very goal oriented. When I finished my first book, I knew I wanted to be traditionally published. I was very fortunate. Eight months after I started writing I had an excellent agent, and eight months after that I got my first contract. A friend who had been in publishing for years told me it would take 5 years to get published. I decided I didn’t have that amount of time. Fortunately, the month before my 60th birthday my first book released.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

EQ. I don’t think so. Young people like paper books. If nothing else does, that will save the industry. On the other hand, most of my readers read in paper. It sometimes depends on the genre.

Q. What makes a writer great?

EQ. The ability to tell a compelling story that readers love.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

Ella and hubby at TransAtlantic Yachting awards

EQ. It depends on the book. I’ve had books that I can write straight through from beginning to end, and books that I’ve skipped around writing scenes. For me it depends on how cooperative my characters are being. Twice I’ve had books where I’ve had to write the end before my heroine would tell me her story. She had to know she’d get a happy ending.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

EQ. I’ve done a lot of things in my life. Most of which dealt with people. Men read my books because they say I nail male POV (point of view). That’s probably because I was the first woman assigned to an Army Special Forces battalion, and I’ve been around Alpha males all my adult life. My husband is retired SF. I practiced family law for 20 years. That gave me a lot of insight into the problems people have. I’m a mom. I don’t think anything more needs to be said about that. I’ve traveled most of my life so I easily understand different cultures, which is what the Regency is. And I’m a researcher.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

EQ. I read a lot, but I’m not a restful person. I bike and walk. I like to travel and see new things or visit places I love. During the winter I spend about 4 weeks skiing. In summer I’m on the boat when I can be. I also paddleboard.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

Winnie, helping with the writing

EQ. No. I’m happy writing Regencies. Although, at some point, I’ll have to write early Victorian.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

EQ. Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s important to be able to take risks. 

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Book Review ~~ Wild Horses on the Salt

2  out  of  5 quills   ~~   Book  Review reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writing

This is a good story set in the gorgeous, stark landscape of the central Arizona desert. Unfortunately it has some formatting issues that were a huge distraction for this reviewer. Every two and a half pages the author started a new chapter. The chapter placement interfered with the story flow. By the time I finished the book I had counted 111 chapters within 323 pages.  There didn’t seem to be any explanation for this, certainly not the two usual reasons for a new chapter; that is, the location of the story changed or the POV (point of view) had changed. Sagas that are well over 500 pages will only have 30-40 chapters. 

When Becca the heroine runs from her abusive husband out into the desert; the story is abruptly interrupted by a history lesson of the wild horse. Instead of focusing on Becca’s feelings of being hunted by her abusive husband, trapped with nowhere to go,   the diversion to the history of wild horses diluted, if not destroyed, the tension of her fleeing. 

Early in the story a driver, unfamiliar with the roads and driving too fast, collides with a wild horse horse crossing the highway. He loses control of his car and goes into a ditch. He hits a Saguaro cactus which falls on the car trapping the driver. The reader is never told what happens to the man and if and when he was ever rescued. The author continues the story thread of the wounded stallion but leaves the driver in his car with no resolution. It is very important that the writer pulls every thread and finishes any subplots. 

Another thread that was neglected was when the abusive husband suddenly turns up at the inn where Becca is hiding. How did he find her? Did he know she was there or was it an unbelievable coincidence? It’s never explained. 

 New chapters are usually begun when the pov (point of view), changes or the location in the story changes. A new chapter beginning every 2 and a 1/2 pages (as was the case with this book) was distracting and not supportive of the story flow. For example: Chapters 65-69 should have been one chapter.  Chapter 53-55  should have been one chapter. Chapters 90-95, again, should have been one chapter. The location nor the POV had changed and one chapter ended in the middle of a conversation. These are just a few examples of this misguided chapter placement. 

As I said, this was a good story concept but the frequent, (oh so frequent) chapter change badly interrupted the flow. And I am still  left wondering why the choice was made for two and a half page chapters?

How To Format a Novel
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    October: George Scott, November: Ella Quinn, December: Lauren Willig, January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica 
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my

  On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks!